5 lessons from Sunny Delight’s ‘depressed’ tweet

During the Super Bowl, the beverage brand’s social media manager tweeted, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ Many brand managers piled on as the conversation grew—with mixed reactions.

Sunny D depressed tweet

Many social media marketers look for attention on Twitter, with the urge growing during Super Bowl LIII.

Sunny Delight took what many called a “depressing” route to grab attention. On Sunday, the beverage’s social media manager tweeted:

Quartz reported:

The original tweet by SunnyD was in reference to Sunday’s Super Bowl game, which sports fans and commentators agreed was a bad and boring time for everyone involved. But stripped of that context, the tweet did sound rather, well, depressed. So it struck many as quite heartwarming when the corporate accounts of SunnyD’s fellow snacks immediately inquired about the health and mental state of the syrupy orange drink.

Though the overall reactions to Sunny D’s tweet were mixed, the tweet (and subsequent conversations) attracted a lot of attention.

Here are several social media takeaways that PR and marketing pros can glean from it:

1. Partner with other brand managers.

Social media managers for MoonPie, Uber Eats, Pop Tarts, Xbox and more responded to Sunny D’s tweet, prompting conversations between brands (which were then shared among fans):

There’s a growing trend for branded Twitter accounts to interact with one another, whether that’s through coordinated conversations, fake feuds or a viral conversation. Though some might wonder if this digital marketing move is wearing out its welcome, fans still seem to love the often-witty banter and exchanges between organizations.

Don’t close yourself off to interacting only with partners and customers. Consider responding to another organization in your industry—or poking fun at a competitor (just make sure it matches your brand strategy and voice).

2. Subtly highlight your products and services.

Several social media managers for branded Twitter accounts responded to Sunny Delight’s cry for help with uplifting messages that also showcased their offerings.

Marketers for Pornhub, BarkBox, Wikipedia, Healthline, Jack in the Box, Fearless Records and e-sports team San Francisco Shock offered tissues, pictures of dogs, advice, songs and more:

Though each tweet referenced products and services the organization or team is known for, the lighthearted approach resonated with Twitter users more than overt marketing messages.

You don’t have to virtually shout in social media users’ timelines to remind consumers of your offerings. Instead, think of ways to interact with other organizations and your fans online in natural ways—that also stay true to your organization’s voice and tone.

3. Listen—and be ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

Monitoring online conversations and responding quickly to inquiries and comments have long been tenets of a successful social media strategy. However, many brand managers focus only on the content they create and distribute—overlooking opportunities to boost engagement and increase loyalty.

Crest and Corn Nuts both jumped into the conversation after fans tagged them in tweets about Sunny Delight’s “crisis”:

By doing so, these social media managers capitalized on consumer-led conversations about their brand and products (which are often more authentic than brand-created content).

Don’t ignore what people are saying about you online. Though you should ignore trolls, responding to genuine questions and concerns can help build trust and bolster your reputation. Interacting with fans of your organization will enhance brand loyalty and can lead to future conversations and content (as more consumers tweet pictures and praises).

4. Get everyone involved.

Moving beyond a conversation between two brands, social media managers for Insomnia Cookies and Planters invited their followers to jump into the conversation:

As with other PR and marketing initiatives, including a call to action is crucial to achieving your goals. When possible, open your witty comeback or sassy tweet to your fans, so they can also take part.

5. Be sensitive to potential pitfalls.

Though Sunny D’s “depressing” tweet was retweeted and “liked” much more than its other content, critics lashed out at the brand for jesting about mental illness.

In an article titled “Depression shouldn’t be a #brand engagement strategy,” Eater pop culture editor Greg Morabito wrote:

… The tweet, sent during the Super Bowl but which surfaced on many users’ feeds for the first time Monday morning, attracted a fair amount of criticism from other Twitter users who saw it as an attempt to use the implication of a mental health crisis as part of a drink company’s social media presence.

… This new tweet represents an evolution of one of 2018’s most groan-worthy social media trends: brands selling you depression. But unlike, say, the Steak-Umm’s mental health rant from last year, Sunny D created a message — “I can’t do this anymore” — that is vague and seemingly designed to mean different things to different Twitter users. Some people read it as a whimsical comment about post-Super Bowl inertia, but clearly, others read it as a cry for help.

Be aware that your jokes might not land well with some Twitter users—and, in more severe cases, could cause a crisis for your communications team.

Being sensitive to heavier matters also includes knowing your brand voice and staying in your lane in terms of conversation and social media content. In a tweet that was later deleted, Little Debbie responded to Sunny D by offering advice on overcoming depression:

Unlike Sunny D’s attention grab, Little Debbie’s advice was not well received.

What lessons would you add to the list, Ragan/PR Daily readers?

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